A FOX fell into a well, and was holding hard to some roots at the side of it, just above the water. A wolf who was passing by saw him, and said, "Hollo, Reynard, after all you have fallen into a well!"
"But not without a purpose, and not without the means of getting out of it," said the fox.
"What do you mean?" said the wolf.
"Why," said the fox, "there is a drought all over the country now, and the water in this well is the only means of appeasing the thirst of the thousands that live in this neighbourhood. They held a meeting, and requested me to keep the water from going down lower; so I am holding it up for the public good."
"What will be your reward?" said the wolf.
"They will give me a pension, and save me the trouble of going about every day in quest of food, not to speak of innumerable other privileges that will be granted me. Further, I am not to stay here all day. I have asked a kinsman of mine, to whom I have communicated the secret of holding up the water, to relieve me from time to time. Of course he will also get a pension, and have other privileges. I expect him here shortly."
"Ah, Reynard, may I relieve you, then?" May I hope to get a pension, and other privileges? You know what a sad lot is mine, especially in winter."
"Certainly," said the fox; "but you must get a long rope, that I may come up and let you in."
So the wolf got a rope. Up came the fox, and down went the wolf, when the former observed, with a laugh, "My dear sir, you may remain there till doomsday, or till the owner of the well throws up your carcass," and left the place.
"Alas!" said the wolf, when it was too late, "greed has its return!"
A FOWLER in the East once went to a wood, scattered some grain on the ground, spread a net over it with some lime in it, and was watching from a distance to see what luck would attend his efforts.
A great many birds assembled on the trees around the net, and said, "What fine corn that is! We can seldom hope to get anything like it."
An owl that was close by said, "How nice that white thing in the net is!"
"What is it?" said the birds.
"Why, it is lime. When it holds us in its embrace, we can never hope to get away."
The birds left the place at once. Said the fowler, "A clever bird knows the lime."
A WEALTHY man in the East had no knowledge of music; yet he pretended to know a great deal about it. So, whenever a famous singer came to him, he would tie one end of a string to his coat-tail, and give the other end to his wife, who understood music well, and who generally sat behind a screen, according to the custom of ladies in the East. The understanding was that whenever there was anything in the singing that was specially praiseworthy, the wife should pull, that the man might nod his approbation of it.
Once a great singer was displaying his skill, and suddenly the string snapped. The man cried, "Wait a bit, good singer; the string has snapped!" The whole audience was amazed, and in the end, knowing what he really meant, exclaimed, "A parrot and a fool can do nothing without prompting."
A RAZOR once said to a sword, "How is it that men always speak of you with respect, while they hardly make any mention of me?"
"Because," said the sword, "you skim over the surface, while I go deeper."
"Just so," said the razor, "and thereby do them more harm than ever I can."
"You are quite right," said the strop, who was of course an ally of the razor; "men always call those great that do them the largest amount of harm. The greater the evil, the greater the glory."
A MAN once stood up at a market-place in the East and said, "I have been ordered by the king to collect all the well-born and well-bred and bring them before him, since he wishes to reward them."
Everybody that heard him joined him, and he went towards the palace, surrounded by the whole town. Then he suddenly turned round and said, "The king has just sent me word that he means to help only those that have been ill-born and ill-bred to make up for their misfortunes."
The crowd lingered behind for a while, and then one after another joined the man as ill-born and ill-bred to merit the king's gifts.
The man said, "The world goes as the wind blows."
A DETACHMENT of soldiers was marching through a wood to avoid meeting a larger detachment of the enemy in the neighbourhood. The drummer kept beating his drum, though not loudly.
The sound, however, attracted the attention of the enemy, and they surrounded the party. The captain bade the drummer beat with all his energy to inspire his men with courage. So he did. They fought like lions, and won the day.
The captain said, "Good and evil often flow from the same source."